Friday, June 6, 2008

Pencils down

First of all, thanks everyone for playing. We had a fair amount of right and almost right answers:

  1. The churches are D, Trinity Church in Boston (by H. H. Richardson) and F, Notre Dame du Ronchamps (by Le Corbusier) in France.
  2. The government building is E, the Massachusetts State House in Boston. (I don't know the architect, and frankly, I'm surprised commentor LP didn't know, if he is who I think he is and I went to grad school with his sorry Tom-Green-lookin' ass.)
  3. The train station is B, King's Cross Station by L. Cubitt, in London, England. I've taken a train in and out of it back in 1998, and it's a great space inside.
  4. The residence is A, which is a Shingle Style house in Maine. I don't know the architect, but it is late 1800s-early 1900s, so technically it's late Victorian. Shingle Style is a Victorian architectural style with American roots, which is kinda rare for Victorian.
  5. The business/office building is C, the Johnson-Wax Building in Racine, Wisconsin, by Frank Lloyd Wright. If you buy Pledge and a bazillion other products, your money goes to this building. Your instincts were correct, St. Blogwen--you still have some of your archimojo left! Also, some more props go out to LP for correctly abbreviating Frank Lloyd Wright's name. Wright wrote his initials with a double "L", as there was no single "L" in his family's native Welsh language.
  6. As a few of you got right or partially right, B and E were built pre-Civil War. King's Cross in 1852 (good job Faded!) and the MA State House (17something, I want to say 1750s, good catch LP!). Mom, that would explain the nice rendering of King's Cross--it's the only way they could represent it in color at the time.

If you got a question wrong, don't sweat it. Instead, think about what led you to believe that a certain building was pre-Civil War/a church/a government building/some dumbass' idea of a church (good one, Mom!). Is it because you think of anything with columns and domes is old? Or stands for a government building? Or, as Mom commented, only old buildings have style? Or Richardsonian Romanesque (that's the style of D) or Gothic buildings are really old?

My goal for the students I lectured to as well as for my WAD peeps is to get you thinking about how you know what you know about buildings, about the built world. Think about what a building is trying to tell you by how it looks. Is it trying to tell you that it's safe? That it's noble? It's classy? It has history (even if it doesn't)? It looks like a 1950s French nun's hat (Corbusier's goal for F)? When you look at buildings, just take a second to think.

And last but not least, a tip of the hat to Xtine for catching that the pictures were all labeled already, and hovering your mouse over them would tell you the names. Not intended, by the way, and good for me to know when I do this again, but good catch.


St. Blogwen said...

How funny! My first impression was that that was Mr. Wright's Johnson Wax Building, but I've never seen that exact view. Should have more confidence about these things, eh?

The date of the Massachusetts State House brings up another question. The mid-1700s date stands to reason, considering what it is. But going along with your musings, it's interesting to note how certain styles are perennial, precisely because they do send certain messages. That Classical style and its variations pop up again and again because the owners and architects don't want their building to look like the latest thing; they want it to look established and rooted, like it's always been there.

Whereas Mr. Wright with the Johnson Wax Building-- that's about innovation and modern scientific progress. Look at them lines go!

Anyway, it's great that you raised these questions for the students (and for the rest of us!). You were teaching them to see-- and to think.

ms. kitty said...

Morning, Pixie. You have listed "E" as the answer for both 2 and 5, but I'm thinking 5 might be C? I got some of them right, but I was too shy to send my thoughts in.

lp said...

Actually, the building is saying "I'm a dumbass".

Wilderness Gina said...

Corbusier? Is he the French Frunk Geerie or has he done something that doesn't look like a cow pie?

Mile High Pixie said...

Thank you, Rev. Kit, for catching that. I have since corrected it.

Blogwen, indeed many present-day architects and designers will choose a NeoClassical style to make it seem as if their building (and hence the institution which it represents) has been around a while. I take offense though, because NeoClassical Revival, which is what they're usually emulating, is a copy of a copy of Classical architecture, which is yet bastardized again when you try to copy it in this day and age.

Mom and LP: yes, Corbusier was gulping way too much wine when he did Ronchamps. But it's beautiful inside, so I hear.